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Microsoft Word   Teaching Philosophy 2009
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Microsoft Word Teaching Philosophy 2009


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My goals and motivations as an educator

My goals and motivations as an educator

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  • 1. Todd Christopher Orchard 58 West 200 South American Fork, Utah 84003 (801) 492-4197 · Teaching philosophy Instructor of Fine Art Reaching for the AAh Ha!@ My first experience with teaching was both eye-opening and mentally exhaustive. My failed attempts at humor (and a room full of silent staring students) made me question my ability to express procedures I knew so well. I realized that I could not act as a fountain of empirical knowledge, not only because of the subjective aspect of art, but the difficultly of wielding language in an ideal manner. It has been said that Atalking about art is like dancing about architecture.” I still find this true! To overcome the confusing lexicon of art terms, I opt to practice less talk and more do. This is not to say I remain silent; I utilize visual supports such as digital slides, master artist images, personal demonstrations, and printed material to make the elements at hand visibly clear. I also get involved as students work on projects. They respond favorably when I am working closely, hands on with each individual, encouraging them to struggle, giving gentle criticism and course corrections to foster their personal creative spark. A beginning drawing class can be very dull for students when faced with rudimentary drawing drills. It is critical that this essential skill become relevant to either art or non- art students alike. Regardless of my persuasiveness, inspiration cannot be forced; it must start with a moment of “Ah Ha!” Knowledge discovered by effort, is rewarded with satisfaction and even joy. I have seen this breakthrough in moments of simple comprehension, such as a student grasping the nuts and bolts of linear perspective. Once they “get it” that intelligence becomes their own. Students often share these educational moments with their peers, magnifying their command of the new skill as they inadvertently become the educator. The excitement spreads to other aspects of their studies, and if fostered, this “Ah Ha!” will become an enduring habit long after they leave the academic setting. As a teacher I find there are various things I can nurture in a student to promote his educational development. These include technical artistic ability and a confident mental attitude. An expectation of discipline in the studio is also indispensable. I have developed my lectures, student critiques, and demonstrations to give a student simple tools of visual articulation. These exercises in color mixing, value rendering, and applicable technique are helpful to foster confidence. In color theory class we learn that three primary colors plus black and white can be combined to create unlimited hues. Similarly, the elements of color, value, and composition can be combined (in limitless ways) to maximize individual expression. It is beneficial to students for me to demonstrate how this might be done, but more important for them to “mix on their own palette,” so to speak. Both my demonstration and their experimentation are needed for this objective: Students will develop an instinctive proficiency with a variety of responses to visual problem solving, rather than a scripted response or a stock solution. I find student critiques challenging but enjoyable. I am able to ascertain if students are regurgitating my words and views, or if they are searching their own minds to
  • 2. intimately connect with the visual experience received from their eyes. The eye/brain/mouth nature of the critique is in contrast to the eye/brain/hand responses of painting and drawing. Critique compels both teacher and student to search for applicable nomenclature which is so lacking that made-up words are permissible and even encouraged. The mental exertion used to describe complex visual phenomena and make judgments about artistic creations, whether it be their work or another=s, is invaluable to enrich learning minds. I include this important discussion in all the courses I design and teach. The necessity of generating my own class content and assignments has been a process that has been rewarding; it helps me focus on what I believe and value. This continual self examination and careful observance of “practice what you preach,” helps me to better hone my skills as an artist and teacher. I have learned to enjoy the challenges poised both in the classroom and advising students privately. I share in the fulfillment of the moment of personal discovery experienced by my students. This is a most gratifying reward. I hope it continues throughout my teaching career.